The 2020 World’s Best Shrimpburger Competition: The Shark Shack, Atlantic Beach, North Carolina

The winner of the World’s Best Shrimpburger will come as no surprise to regular readers.  I announced it several posts ago.  The Captain’s Kitchen won an unprecedented third title, as announced while I dawdled on posts about my barbecue adventures on the way down to the beach.  I was going to do the traditional countdown of runners-up before announcing the winner, but by that time many people would be back home, having lost their chance to eat the best shrimpburger in the world.

The Shark Shack is very popular.  The food is good.  They have a good location, close to some shops, and parking is, if not easy, possible.  I’ve eaten there before and enjoyed it.

Nonetheless, the Shark Shack was disqualified from the Best Shrimpburger in the World Competition this year on the grounds that they gave me a shrimp basket instead of a shrimpburger.  Since this is coronavirus carryout season, I didn’t notice until I got home.

Here are our orders —  Liza’s grouper sandwich,

shark shack fish

which Liza thought was good.  It has a good bit of fish, perhaps more than half as much as a grouper sandwich at the Captain’s Kitchen.   Here’s Nancy’s crab cake sandwich,

shark crab cake

which Nancy thought was okay, and which was not nearly as good as the crab cakes she had made.  And here is my shrimp (sigh) basket.

shark shrimp

That’s a good serving of shrimp and enough hushpuppies for a crowd.  The shrimp basket, like a shrimpburger, cost $11.95 at the Shark Shack, or $4 more than the Captain’s Kitchen shrimpburger.   The grouper sandwich cost $10.95, and Nancy’s crab cake sandwich cost $14.95.  (Nancy is conducting a crab cake survey, and money is no object.)

You may think the disqualification is unfair.  The Shark Shack has its good points, so why not forgive and forget?   Normally, having the meekness of a lamb, I would have done so.  I did not go back, however, because getting my food had taken forever.  The process is okay up until you give your order.  At that point, and not before, you are asked to select two sauces among eight different sauces.  I remember tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, wasabi sauce, and coriander and lime sauce.  I forget the others.  I was able to navigate the decision-making easily enough, but other people were not.  Indeed, a number of groups of people, having looked at the menu for 20 minutes while waiting in line, still had not decided on their principal orders, much less sides or sauces.  And the Shark Shack takes extra time to match the sauces with the sandwiches (“Okay, what do you want with the first fish sandwich?  The second?  The shrimpburger?”), even though all of the sauces get tossed into the bag willy-nilly.

Springing eight menu choices on indecisive people at the last minute while a line of other customers stand in the sun on a 90+ degree day is just cruel.   I had a similar experience at Lee Be Fish in Marco Island, where a man who had been studying the menu for 10 minutes while in line took so long deciding what to order among (1) two possible fish choices, (2)  two possible cooking methods, and (3) two possible sides, that I was able to (1) foresee a long wait, (2) walk to the cooler and get a beer, and (3) open and consume said beer at a moderate pace before he finished ordering.  Imagine that man being ambushed by eight sauce choices.

The wait for sauces was especially galling because the sauces uniformly were bland, each as insipid as the next.  Who ever heard of a wasabi sauce without a hint of wasabi beyond a greenish tinge?  What cilantro lime sauce is free from any cilantro or lime flavor?

I believe that God has blessed me with a vast but finite amount of patience, that I expended a great deal of dealing with the law’s delay and the insolence of office, and that it behooves me to husband the remainder carefully, lest I exhaust the supply.

I’ll try again next year, when the Shark Shack will have a good chance to become a contender.  Meanwhile, I hope that the Shark Shack works on its organizational scheme and its sauces.  And that they consider serving beer to people waiting in line.

***

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2 thoughts on “The 2020 World’s Best Shrimpburger Competition: The Shark Shack, Atlantic Beach, North Carolina

  1. I don’t know these places, so I can’t say with certainty that the best shrimpburger in the world is served by the Shrimp Shack on St Helena Island, South Carolina, but I’d put some money on the proposition.

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